white beet sorrel potato soup

December 12th, 2006

I once ate white borsch at a friend’s house as a teenager. It was a clear broth with potatoes and green leafies of some sort, and I loved it. This soup was a revelation for me, as my previous encounters with borsch had been entirely unpleasant. The only borsch I had growing up in California came in mass-produced jars bought from the local kosher food store. The jars of purple juice with spherical lumps looked like alien amniotic fluid, and taste about the same. As a result, I had always stayed away from anything that called itself borsch (or borscht), or anything with beets in it, for that matter. That bowl of white borsch opened up a whole new world to me. So this was borsch! It was good, honest traditional food with a harmony of textures.

My second revelation happened at college. My Moscovite friend Ariella had just prepared a fresh pot of red beet borsch, and offered me a bowl. “Oh, I don’t really like borsch, thanks,” I said foolishly. “Just taste a little,” she replied, undeterred. And so I did. It was tart and sweet, warm and delicious. I gladly ate an entire bowl. After that, it was a small leap to beets with goat cheese or gorgonzola and walnuts on a bed of greens.

My eternal thanks to Ariella for re-introducing me to fresh beets.

This soup combines the tart freshness of sorrel with the sweetness of white beets. Potatoes ground the soup with their earthy flavor and dense, creamy texture. I didn’t bother peeling the potatoes, you don’t notice the skins when the soup is blended.

white beet sorrel potato soup

butter and olive oil
1/2 large or 1 small onion, chopped
4 medium potatoes, chopped
4 medium white or golden beets, peeled and chopped
stock and/or water
2/3 lb sorrel, washed, drained, stems removed
salt and white pepper

  • Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions and stir.
  • When the onions are nearly golden, stir in the potatoes, then the beets.
  • Cook for a few minutes, then pour in stock or water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes and beets have softened.
  • Meanwhile, coarsely chop the sorrel. Stir in the sorrel and simmer until the sorrel begins to change color. Turn off the flame.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to a thick, creamy consistency. You can leave the soup a little chunky or blend it until it’s very smooth. I like it a little chunky.
  • Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Taste and correct seasoning.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream, or a splash of whole milk stirred in.

Serves 4-6

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